Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Diary of a Wannabe Royalist

‘There aren’t many royalists here,’ complained one royalist while we waited for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, commonly referred to as Will and Kate, to drive by. One sunny Sunday afternoon beside a lake in Queenstown, New Zealand.

A burly policeman, nicely togged out in various shades of blue, gave us a running commentary of the royal entourage’s progress. As we stood. Still. And Politely. Behind an imaginery line beside the road as instructed. 

‘They’re 20 minutes away,’ he announced, flashing his walkie-talkie and the Nicole and Tania tattooed on his forearm. Daughters perhaps? His bullet proof vest was tight. His arms hairy. And his moustache trimmed. He was your typical kiwi copper. Doing his job. Containing the crowd. And getting excited.

Just like the small elderly gent to my left who spat a little as he tweaked his wife’s elbow and said smiling, ‘twenty minutes.’ 

‘Yep, 20 minutes before they land. They’re still in the air.’ 

And so we waited. Patiently. Mum. Shoulder to shoulder. Guarding our front row positions. A neighbourhood watch. Behind the line. At least 2 hundred of us with our copper, opposite Amisfield Winery where Will & Kate were set to sample the region’s best. Pinot Noir. While the British media they’d brought with them recorded the moment. 

I began to twitch, I wished I’d driven straight home from the rowing regatta. My car was now blocked in. Even worse, some plonkers had parked their campervan right on the corner. The lumbering white whale hogged our view of the motorcade’s approach. A couple sat inside glumly, watching at the window, sipping tea. They could at least have invited people in. Made an afternoon of it. Funny folk. Royalists.

Finally. A plain clothed cop car with two coppers turned into OUR road. The flashing lights of three police cars followed. Then two silver BMW saloons with bullet proof glass. We peered in through tinted windows as best the high sun would allow.

Next a coat of arms flag. A toothy white grin. I snapped the Windsor chin. On quick frame. It only took one hour and thirty five minutes. All up. Kate was in the shadows.

When I got home the telephone rang. 

‘They’ll be on the river soon.’

Off the H and I raced. Spurred on by what exactly I’m not sure. The excitement? Or royals, acting more like celebrities on the seemingly never ending red carpet in my back yard? 

Across the paddock I trotted, down the bullock track, along the first river terrace, through the gate down through the forest to the mighty Shotover river.

It was crowded. A melee of young and old and girls on ponies acting excited. The ponies not the girls. 

‘Who are all these people?’ I said, in a low voice with loud eyes. 

‘Yeah really’ the girls exclaimed, wrestling their mounts.

There were SUVs, quad bikes. Royalists. 

One boisterous group had come over by boat and taken the SPOT. Imposters; drinking champagne, some dressed especially like Zara Phillips or was it Princess Ann?

Then we heard the drone of jet boat engines reverberating up rock canyon walls. 

‘They’re coming,’ we all cried. 

And there they were. Will and Kate. Wiping icy river water from their hair and sunglasses. Right there. Smiling. Will patted his life jacket as though it might have come off. 

‘Kate. Will.’ I shouted. They turned and waved. I clicked like the paparazzi I’d become. Most cameras were on the other side of the river. The wrong side.

They sat there for all of five minutes. Not an SAS man in sight. It was as though they’d left all the pomp and security at home. This was a relaxed tour. Kiwi style. 

Next thing they gunned the twin V8 engines, clasped their white knuckles over the heated hand rail and sped off for more thrills. And a night away from hand shaking, bouquet accepting crowd waving duty at a luxury lodge. Without their nine month old baby George.

If you want to see what, Will and Kate experienced. Watch this video. Squint while you’re doing so because you may just recognize me. In it. Yep a few years back I agreed to sit in a Shotover Jet boat for two days while they re-shot their marketing videos. For one part a helicopter with a camera on the boom flew above us through the narrow the canyons. It was a great ride. If a little too long. And just like the royals I had to smile all day.

I won’t mention what they paid us. If I did I may never work again in this town...

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